Edmonton gives more bylaw violation tickets to tobacco smokers than cannabis smokers

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The City of Edmonton has said that since cannabis became legal in Canada four months ago only three bylaw violation tickets have been given for smoking cannabis.

New rules were put into place in the city after they decided that they needed a way to oversee smoking tobacco and cannabis. A bylaw was passed so that smoking in public spaces is now extremely limited. Smoker must be at least 10 meters away from window, door and transit stops when smoking. There are also new restrictions when it comes to smoking in public places including playgrounds, cemeteries, outdoor pools and skating rinks.

Since the new bylaws have gone into effect, the city says that there have been 33 warnings handed out for smoking cannabis in restricted areas, compared to a total of 847 warnings handed out for tobacco smoking. The city also said that they have handed out 73 tickets for tobacco smokers compared to the three handed out for cannabis.

Les Hagen, executive director of Action on Smoking and Health in Edmonton said that he is not surprised by the numbers since cannabis is still newly legal whereas smoking tobacco publicly has been allowed for years. He added that it is still new territory when asked if he was expecting such a big difference between cannabis and tobacco.

“It is new to Edmonton. We really didn’t know what to expect. Some of those people who are vaping may in fact be smoking cannabis and maybe going undetected,” he said.

“It is difficult for some people to comply with the new rules when they come into play. However, I suspect as time goes on, people will become more and more compliant.”

Many long-time tobacco smokers are not happy about the new rules however, including Lee Lindeburg, a construction worker in Edmonton. He told Global News that the new bylaws are tricky to follow.

“It is actually getting hard for some of my subtrades, they actually have to move to have a cigarette,” he said. “Fifteen-minute breaks on a construction site. If you have to walk 15 minutes just to go have a cigarette, how do you do that?”

Businesses in the area however have said that “not much has changed” since cannabis has become legal, and that they haven’t had any issues with the cannabis shops that have opened up in the area or with any customers.

“I think it’s been a bit of a non-event,” said ward councilor Aaron Paquette. “People have been fairly respectful in terms of their public consumption, and on the plus side it’s more small businesses, it’s more employment.”

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